News

Ozark Mountain Prayer Breakfast Thursday

By Jason Wert
jason@bransontrilakesnews.com

Hundreds of Christians from around the region will gather together Thursday morning, May 5, at the Branson Convention Center for the 21st Annual Ozark Mountain Prayer Breakfast. The event is being held in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer. The event will open with a breakfast at 6
a.m., followed by a program which will include inspirational singing, an award presentation, and a keynote address from Silver StarRecipient and Vietnam Veteran Captain Allen B. Clark.

The Ozark Mountain Prayer Breakfast is sponsored by the Branson Christian Business Men’s Committee. The group is a “movement of men dedicated to prayer while sharing the gospel and hope of Jesus Christ.” The group first formed in 1993 under the leadership of Don Gabriel. The group met for almost seven years before hosting the first Ozark Mountain Prayer Breakfast in 2001. The event began with about 250 in attendance and now regularly draws over 1,200.
Keynote speaker Clark is a West Point graduate who served in Vietnam as a Military Intelligence Officer who worked undercover operations against Cambodia. He suffered horrific injuries to both legs which required amputation below the knees. In his time in combat, Clark earned a Silver Star, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Air Medal, and Combat Infantryman’s Badge. After leaving the military, he served his nation as a special assistant to Texas Governor Bill Clements from 1979 to 1981, and served in two positions in the President George H.W. Bush administration, first as assistant secretary for Veterans Liaison and Program Coordinator, and then as director of the National Cemetery System of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The annual Don & Dorothy Gabriel Kingdom Builder award will also be given to someone who “contributes to the quality of the community by demonstrating in word and action a dedication and dynamic Christian life.” The award is for someone who “puts others ahead of self” and “lives
by Christian vision and mission.” The 2021 winner of the award was Branson Fire Chief Ted Martin.
More information about the breakfast can be found on their website, ozarkmountainprayerbreakfast.com.

A ‘Legacy of Love” Quilt collection at C of O

‘A Legacy of Love’ quilt collection at C of O . The Ralph Foster Museum on the campus of College of the Ozarks has  a new quilt display.

The College of the Ozarks “A Legacy of Love” Quilting Collection went on display in the museum beginning Saturday, March 19, according to a press release from C of O. The collection was inspired by award-winning author and quilt historian Judy Howard’s quilt donation to the College in 2020, states the release.
The collection seeks to highlight an artform, which C of O says has seen interest waning in recent years. All the quilts and quilt tops have been acquired
by the museum by donations from estates, several of which were from the Midwest region of the United States. “The exhibit will feature quilts chosen from
the museum archives,” Director of Retail Operations at Ralph Foster Museum Kiley Hutcheson said. “(We) will display quilts of varying patterns
and stitch constructs, antique sewing machines, as well as historical recollections.”

The quilts in the exhibit are not available for purchase but the school does have other quilts which can be purchased online at www.store.cofo.edu or at The Keeter Center. For more information visit www.rfostermuseum.com or contact the museum at 417-690- 3407.

TangerKIDS Grants open for applications

By AJ Meakins
ajmeakins@bransontrilakesnews.com

TangerKIDS Grants open for applications
A Branson shopping destination, Tanger Outlets Branson announces applications are open for their 2022 TangerKIDS Grants.
Tanger Outlets Branson launched their TangerKIDS Grant program in 1996, with a mission of providing funding for schools in the community.
According to a press release from Tanger, the program serves future generations of leaders by providing funds for special programs at local schools
geared toward inclusivity. Applications are now open for this year’s grants, with program updates that further incorporate the company’s mission,
vision and values, states the release. Tanger Outlets invites teachers and other education leaders to identify and apply for grants meeting their school’s specific needs as they work to create a more productive and inclusive learning environment. In previous years, TangerKIDS Grants have funded notable projects,
programs and equipment for schools, including: – Branson Backpack Club Program – Reeds Spring Excellence in Literacy – Taneyville Sensory Lab

“Tanger Outlets Branson remains committed to ensuring local students and their schools receive the tools they need to make learning accessible and
inclusive,” Tanger Outlets Marketing Director Karen Foutch said. “Our goal is to open doors and inspire students, and the generous support from our shoppers
has been instrumental in helping us make a positive impact on the next generation.” The program is funded by Tanger shoppers, as $1 from every Tanger coupon
book sold at the center is donated toward the program. New in 2022, community members will also be invited to have a voice in selecting grant winners.
The annual program is open to public and private schools from pre-K to grade 12. Applications for 2022 will be accepted through June 30 and can
be submitted at grants. tangeroutlets.com. Recipients will be announced in August.

Gift bags brighten the days of cancer patients

By AJ Meakins
ajmeakins@bransontrilakesnews.com

Local resident, Rose Backlin, gives back to area cancer patients in honor of her father. Backlin began the ‘Don’t Give Up Gear’ program in the fall of 2020 and every three months gives out 30 bags with community-donated items to help put a
smile on the face of cancer patients at Branson Cancer Center. “These bags started in small makeup bags and have grown,” Backlin told Branson Tri-Lakes News. “The items always vary, but a few examples would be Fuzzy/Warm socks, Hats, Scarves, Snack Items, homemade rice heating pad, word search books, pens, Germ-x, lotion, stress balls, peppermints, small
sewing kits, first aid kits, and so many more. This program is to bring a smile to their face.” Backlin said her dad, the late Danny Pride, is her inspiration to give back. “He had cancer for many years and passed June 2020 due to cancer. Talking to his nurses at the Branson Cancer Center, they told me how he always made the other patients smile or would reach out to the
new patients when they were nervous to help ease their nerves or even try to encourage them,” Backlin said.

“They said he always had the best attitude no matter how his day was going. My Dad was always cracking a joke with people
around him, especially people he saw regularly or he was just being ‘ornery so these stories just made sense. After (he) passed I wanted to continue bringing smiles to those patients that are going through a rough time and could use that
small gesture to help them make it another day. My dad always thought the reason he could keep going on for so long with chemo was because of his attitude. Now I can help adjust someone else’s attitude.”

Cancer Center of Branson Oncology Patient Navigator Angelia Huels said she remembered Pride and the way he would be there for other patients. “(Rose) and (her) group that are thinking of these patients and families are a blessing and encouragement,” Huels said. “Just like (her) dad, who would come by and visit with people and encourage each of them in
some way.”

On March 16, Cox Medical Center Branson posted this on their Facebook page about Backlin’s program:
A loving legacy. An act of kindness. Our friend Rose started a tradition awhile back while her father was undergoing cancer
treatments. Every few months, she’d drop off goodie bags for our cancer patients crammed full of fun stuff like snacks, fuzzy socks and games. They bring the BIGGEST smiles. She lost her dad Danny but continues the tradition as a way to honor him. We hate cancer with our whole heart! As much as we also miss Danny, we love seeing Rose walk through our doors and the smiles she brings with her bags. Thank you for the joy! There are many things about the program Backlin says makes her feel
she is doing the right thing and gives her the joy of knowing what she does is rewarding. “The most rewarding part of this program is honoring my Dad first and watching his impact on others continue even though he is gone,” Backlin said. “Secondly, it’s simply knowing I made someone smile, cheered them up, or gave them encouragement to keep fighting.” Backlin’s gift bags
have been a beacon of kindness when times are dark for many patients and their families.

She recently had a Facebook message from someone whose mother was a patient at the Cancer Center of Branson. “Rose Backlin, I just want to thank you for doing this. One of the last conversations me and my mom had last year before she died was how a ‘sweet lady brought stuff in for everyone.’ You literally made her day with that, and it was hard for her to have good days being back on treatment,” the Facebook message read. Backlin said she has never kept count of how many bags she has given out but thinks it is between 150 to 180 so far. The community can help her with this mission by gifting items for the bags. “To help the program I am always looking for items to put in the bags. I request that there be 30 of each item so all the bags are the same and nothing perishable. Any item that would bring a smile or some encouragement would be appreciated,” Backlin said. “Eventually, I would love to be able to place restaurant and gas gift cards into the bags.” The bags are a way to pass along kindness to patients who are going through so much, Backlin said. “I would like everyone to know how thankful I am to have this support from the community. I started out with no intention besides passing on some kindness and smiles in my Dad’s honor,” Backlin said. “I can’t develop the words to describe how I feel for all this support or the feelings I get when I leave from dropping the bags off. It is indescribable!”

Backlin recently created a Facebook page called ‘Don’t Give Up Gear’.“The Facebook page is where I will be updating what the cancer patients are needing or wanting and when the collection dates will be.” For more information contact Rose through the Facebook page.

JATC’s ‘Tender Critters’ project continues

Junior Auxiliary of Taney County continues to supply “Tender Critters” to agencies that need something that offers comfort to children in trauma situations. Tender Critters are new 6” to 18″ stuffed animals that JATC collects or buys and donates to agencies that use them to help comfort children who are in trauma.  Holding a soft cuddly stuffed animal helps kids think of something other than what’s going on around them.  Last month JATC donated over 175 stuffed animals to the Cox Branson ER, the Taney County Sherriff’s Office, and the Taney County Health Department.

 When children face the confusing and often scary experience of a hospital emergency room visit or a hospital stay, or receiving a shot at the Health Department, a cuddly stuffed animal can be the difference between anxiety and reassurance. You can brighten a child’s day by donating one of these “Critters”.

 “Tender Critters” is one of the longest running projects for JATC, with members donating new stuffed animals at each of their monthly meetings.  This collection is a year-round effort and JATC invites members of the community to join us in brightening a child’s day by donating a “tender critter” at any time.  Just send a message to jatcmo@gmail.com, and a JATC member will contact you about picking up your donation.

 A special thanks to Legends in Concert who held their area appreciation for residents of Stone and Taney County last month.  Any guest who brought a new stuffed animal to donate to JATC’s Tender Critter project received a free upgrade to preferred seating. Close to 120 “Critters” were collected.

 JATC is more than a nonprofit organization, it’s a group of women united by a single cause and dedicated to helping the children of Taney County.  That’s the magic of JATC.  It was chartered by a group of caring, enthusiastic women in 1998 and continues to grow and thrive throughout Taney County. JATC is part of the National Association of Junior Auxiliaries (NAJA), a non-profit organization founded in 1941 with headquarters in Greenville, Mississippi.  NAJA has more than 15,500 active, associate and life members in almost 100 chapters located in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri,

Whatever It Takes fund provides lifeline for patients

Skaggs Foundation partners with social workers to help individuals recover at home

When a patient in the hospital is healthy enough to go home, sometimes the biggest barrier between them and the comforts of home is what they need when they get there.

“Oftentimes when patients are being discharged, they can’t safely go home without items like oxygen, medication or a walker,” explained Cox Branson Social Work Department Manager Janine Johns-Shaffer. “If a patient doesn’t have insurance, they have to pay out of pocket. For some patients, they simply do not have the funds to pay for those items.”

That is where Skaggs Foundation’s Whatever It Takes fund comes in to help.

“For individuals who have nowhere else to turn to pay for necessities, our Whatever It Takes fund provides a lifeline so that they can transition from the hospital to home,” said Skaggs Foundation President Meghan Connell. “We can’t think of a better name for the fund that literally was established to help with whatever it takes.”

The Whatever It Takes fund was created approximately nine years ago. Since that time, the Foundation has helped fill hundreds of needs for patients. Last year, the Foundation was able to bless 51 individuals through the fund.

“The Whatever It Takes fund is a lifesaver for some of our patients,” Shaffer said. “It is the difference sometimes between a patient being able to go home or having to stay in the hospital and when hospital beds are desperately needed, it is important that we get folks home when they are ready. It’s important for the hospital and it’s important for recovery of the individual.”

Shaffer said with the rising number of Covid-19 patients, the need for assistance with oxygen is growing.

“Patients who do not have insurance would have to pay out of pocket and for some, that is a huge burden,” Shaffer said. “The fact that we can get those folks a month supply of oxygen and they don’t have to stress about the cost, is a blessing.”

Shaffer said they have stories every day of people who had no other resource, helped through the Whatever It Takes Fund. 

“Many of the individuals we are helping have had to miss work, some are missing paychecks and would have to choose between buying a prescription or buying groceries,” Shaffer said.

“This fund is vital and we couldn’t do this without the generosity of our community,” Connell said. “The dollars donated to this fund go right back out into the community to help our friends and neighbors regain their health.”

To donate to the Whatever It Takes Fund, visit SkaggsFoundation.org.

Reeds Spring Teacher Receives Skaggs Legacy Endowment

A Skaggs Legacy Endowment will help kids in Reeds Spring to practice healthy lifestyles. The Skaggs Foundation awarded nearly $4,500 to Reeds Spring Middle School teacher Shane Corporon. He plans to build a frisbee golf course behind the school.

“I just wanted a space for kids to be able to play,” said Corporon. “This course will not only provide students with an opportunity to learn and practice healthy habits but will also provide our community with a new and fun activity that is great for all ages.”

The Reeds Spring area is full of recreational activities on the water but lacks parks, playgrounds, and other recreational resources for the community. This project will help address that need.

Frisbee golf is similar to regular golf. Players throw a frisbee toward a metal basket and count the number of throws it takes to hit the target. Coach Corporon plans to design a nine-hole course.

“For us to make a small contribution is a big deal,” said Skaggs Foundation Board Member Nita Jayne Ayres. “Small grants are sometimes, I feel, the most impactful.”

This endowment grant was one of 30 that The Skaggs Foundation awarded to organizations in Stone and Taney Counties to support community initiatives that improve health and wellness.

Future of the Ozarks: Hollister High School Siblings Ranked No. 1, 2, 3, and 4 in the Senior Class

Four seniors from the same family will graduate together from Hollister High School in May.

If that is not remarkable enough, the Schultz siblings — Michael, 18, and triplets Allison, Brooklyn, and Samantha, 17 — are academically ranked No. 1, 2, 3, and 4 in the Class of 2022.

The four, born just eight months apart in 2003, are student leaders who have made their mark in different ways.

“As a group, they set an example for the other kids in the building because of that drive, because of that work ethic, because of that character,” said Principal Jared Terry. “No matter what they’re in, they’re in a leadership position.”

Terry said the siblings have a variety of interests and have found ways to stand apart.

“They’ve each found their own little niche but collectively they just bring so much to our student body,” he said. “They’re really kids that you can point (out) to freshmen and sophomores and say ‘Hey if you want to be successful, look at them and follow their lead.'”

All four are in the National Honor Society and have packed resumes based on involvement in a wide range of student groups. Here are the highlights:

Allison, the valedictorian, is the color guard captain in the marching band, which competed at high levels this year. She is on the student council and secretary of the Future Business Leaders of America.

“I’m in AP,” she said, of advanced placement courses. “My biggest accomplishment is AP. I pretty much pushed for an AP Calculus II class.”

She plans to study accounting or finance and was recently admitted to the University of Notre Dame. She was selected in the first round, one of 1,675 students picked from the 9,683 applicants.

Samantha ranked No. 2 in the class, is president of FBLA, dance coordinator for the student cabinet, and performed in show choir. She is part of the agronomy team, which went to nationals last year.

“That was a really big accomplishment,” she said. “This year we are hoping to go as far.” She plans to study interior design or plant science at the University of Arkansas.

Ranked No. 3 in class, Brooklyn is editor-in-chief of the yearbook and an accomplished photographer who has worked with the Branson Globe and Branson Tri-Lakes News.

“I’ve had a Facebook page called Brooklyn Schultz photography for three years now,” she said. She is frequently booked for shooting senior pictures, engagement photos, and local events.

She plans to study journalism and has been accepted to the University of Missouri. Her goal is to work internationally as a photojournalist.

Michael, the student body president, is ranked No. 4 in the class. He has played football as well as basketball and golf.

He was selected to attend Missouri Boys State and be part of the Missouri Leadership Seminar. The Academic All-State student-athlete wants to study law.

“I received my congressional nomination from Billy Long to get the chance to apply to the United States Merchant Marine Academy and the United States Military Academy,” he said this week. “I will find out if I get into either of them anywhere from January to April.”

‘Grandma prayed too hard’

The story of the family starts in Doniphan, nestled in the Ozark foothills in the southeast part of Missouri.

The parents, Stan and Kathy Schultz, already had son Patrick — currently a student at Benedictine College — when they welcomed Michael in April 2003.

Three months later, Kathy went to the hospital thinking she had a bad stomachache.

“She was like ‘Doctors I don’t know what is happening’ and then they had an ultrasound and they’re like ‘Well, actually you’re pregnant — and, wait, with triplets,'” Samantha said. “My grandma prayed for girls and they got girls.”

Brooklyn added: “We always say ‘My grandma prayed too hard.'”

Twins and triplets do not run in the family so the surprise was overwhelming at first. The pregnancy was difficult.

The triplets arrived on Dec. 21, three months early, but just in time for Christmas. Samantha was first, followed quickly by Allison. They each weighed 2 pounds, 7 ounces. Brooklyn, at just 1 pound, 6 ounces, was last.

There were serious health complications. Allison and Samantha remained in the hospital until early February. Brooklyn did not get to go home until mid-March.

Of Brooklyn, Michael said: “Her middle name is Faith because she had a life-saving surgery on Christmas Eve.”

That night, in the hospital room, the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” was playing.

“So, we watch it every year now,” Brooklyn said.

‘We want to do our own thing’

Despite having triplet girls and a son less than a year apart in age, the siblings said their parents raised them as individuals.

Each child has their own room. The triplets share a striking similarity but do not look or dress identically. With vastly different styles, they rarely share clothes.

They have sidestepped other multiple-birth clichés as well, like trying to fool teachers by swapping classes.

“We were so adamant when we were younger, and still now, that we want to do our own thing,” Samantha said. “We all have completely different interests.”

Their parents also insisted the children do their best, explore their talents and find ways to give back.

“They say all the time ‘We are not going to get mad at you for getting a slightly lower grade than you always get,” Samantha recalled. “But, we are going to get mad at you if you don’t try.”

Michael said his parents set high expectations with their example. “Our mom got all As from fourth grade through college and our dad is an engineer. Part of the drive is from them.”

The seniors were in fifth grade when the family moved to Hollister.

The parents relocated to the community based on academic and extracurricular options available in the school district.

“When we moved in, we were included in everything right off the bat,” said Michael. 

The four siblings believe their close relationship and competitiveness have helped them all excel academically.

“It’s like a game,” Samantha said.

Allison added: “We’re competitors. We’re pretty much just pushing each other all the time to be better because we don’t want to be the worst.”

Despite being the oldest, Michael was not as competitive at the start of high school.

“Freshman year, I was 26th in class,” he recalled. “On our first report card, they were all, like, I don’t know, top 5 or something.”

Allison added: “We made fun of him quite a bit.”

Michael interjected as the others laughed: “They absolutely ripped me to shreds, OK? I have not gotten anything other than an A+ since my freshman year.”

‘Cherish those conversations’

Over the years, the family has created many traditions but the most important may be at the dinner table.

“We all eat dinner together,” said Brooklyn, noting their grades are a frequent topic, especially when two or more siblings are in the same class.

All four of the siblings work part-time jobs in the area at places such as Silver Dollar City, Chick-fil-A, and Top of the Rock.

The siblings said dinner occurs when everybody is finally home from school or work —even if it’s not until 8 p.m.

“That is something my parent’s stress … Even if we’re mad at each other, we’re going to sit down and have a family meal together,” Samantha said.

“It has brought us so close and I will always cherish those conversations.”

With graduation just five months away, the reality of parting soon has hit each one of the siblings.

They have tough classes, leadership positions in extracurricular activities, and part-time jobs.

But they have been making time to get together this year. And they’ve been celebrating each other.

“Our whole lives we’ve been trying to be different from each other,” said Brooklyn. “Like he’s a history buff. We have an art person, we have a math person, an English person.”

During an interview with the News-Leader, the four took turns bragging on each other and pointing out accomplishments others forgot or were too modest, to mention.

The siblings said they realize the constant togetherness — and all the support and the motivation they’ve gained from it — will be gone, or at least different, next year.

In the fall, they’re planning to be on college or military campuses hundreds of miles apart. They are enjoying the time they have now.

“Us girls will go eat breakfast in the morning. We’ll have study sessions at the Landing (in Branson). We’ll have, like, random 2 a.m. talks in somebody’s room,” Samantha said. “That is what I am going to miss the most.”

Claudette Riley is the education reporter for the News-Leader. 

Branson Police Department Creates Model For Positive Change

Project funded by Skaggs Legacy Endowment grant

With funding from Skaggs Foundation in 2021, Branson Police Department launched a Regional Peer Support Team. The team is dedicated to helping Stone and Taney county first responders process personal issues and struggles associated with the traumatic events they respond to and manage through their careers.

“In its first year, the team has done incredible work getting the project up and going, which included a 3-day training seminar for 30 first local responders,” says Skaggs Foundation director of Community Relations Mindy Honey. “In just a matter of a few months, they are already making a huge impact. In year one, the peer support team was activated 17 times for individual and group crisis interventions, providing services to at least 46 first responders.” 

Now, the peer support team has been selected to lead a breakout session at the Missouri Crisis Intervention Training Conference in 2022. This gives the team an opportunity to share what they have learned through the process of creating the team which included bringing together numerous agencies that span two counties and multiple disciplines.

The hope is that the peer support team will become a model for positive change statewide in regards to mental health and first responders. 

“This is not a common model that is used, so by presenting at the conference we can hopefully encourage positive change statewide when it comes to mental health and first responders,” explains Branson Police Chief Jeff Matthews.

Skaggs Foundation recently presented Branson Police Department with funding for the second year of the project. Funding for this project was made possible by Skaggs Foundation’s community grant-making program, Skaggs Legacy Endowment. Since 2013, Skaggs Foundation has awarded more than $7.1 million in Skaggs Legacy Endowment grants. To learn more about Skaggs Legacy Endowment, visit SkaggsFoundation.org.

To learn more about Branson Police Department, visit bransonmo.gov.

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Cutline: Skaggs Foundation Director of Community Relations Mindy Honey, center, and grants committee member Anne E McGregor, left, present a check to Branson Police Department and local first responders for the second year of a regional peer support team grant.

Five students attend Rotary Youth Leadership Award Academy

Five area students earned scholarships to the Rotary Youth Leadership Award Academy from three area Rotary groups.

The academy is a three-and-a-half-day program focusing on Rotary’s “Service Above Self” philosophies, according to the academy website. Students participated in self-assessment personality programs, team building activities, and instruction and direction in service leadership from Rotary leaders.

“Going to RYLA was a life-changing experience, not only did it help grow my leadership skills, I also formed many valuable friendships along the way,” Abby Mulnik, a junior at Branson High School, told Branson Tri-Lakes News. “I am very grateful to the Branson Daybreakers Rotary Club for selecting me to be a part of the experience and helping contribute to my future in leadership.”

Mulnik and Caitlyn Matthews were sponsored by Branson Daybreakers Rotary, Israel Reynolds of Branson and Audrey Remenar of Cape Fair were sponsored by the Branson-Hollister Rotary Club, and Bertha Perez by the Hollister Rotary Club.

“Missouri RYLA was great, I met so new friends and was challenged beyond all expectations,” Matthews told Branson Tri-Lakes News. “It provided tools on how to be an effective leader and use my talents to bring people together for a common cause.  RYLA gave me tools to perform the best I can both on the Branson Band leadership team, in the classroom, and beyond.”

The RYLA Academy chooses students based on a desire to be a part of the program, their willingness to participate in all aspects of the program, and their commitment to serve upon returning to their home communities.